“These Special Forces Soldiers were the most capable and intelligent people I’d ever met – and the most modest.”

– Willy Stern, Founder, The Legion Fund

How The Legion Fund Began

Journalist Willy Stern founded The Legion Fund in 2014 after embedding as a journalist with elements of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the combat theater of Afghanistan.

His story follows.

willy stern the legion fund wearing a flack jacket

Veteran correspondent Willy Stern found himself at a remote, classified Special Operations base in nowhere Afghanistan in late 2014; it was on that reporting trip that he became enchanted by the Green Beret community.

These Special Forces Soldiers were the most capable and intelligent people he’d ever met — and the most modest.

Upon his return to his home in Nashville, TN, Stern approached the leadership of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, KY.

He quickly learned that the Unit’s Soldiers and their Families had many pressing needs that were beyond the scope and reach of military not-for-profit organizations or standard Department of Defense funding lines.

In an effort to plug these holes, Stern founded The Legion Fund.

Today, 5th Group is the only Special Forces Unit to be served by a privately organized and solely dedicated benevolent fund.


The Legion Fund’s operating procedures are based on four tidbits of advice that a former Unit commander shared with Stern.

  1. Don’t ever seek credit for your good deeds; always let someone else get credit.
  2. Don’t ever do anything to embarrass the Unit.
  3. When 5th Group sees you coming, they ought to be thinking, “That’s the guy who helped me last week,” and not, “What does he want from me today?”
  4. The JAG (Unit attorney) will provide “lefts and rights” on appropriate behavior for those associated with the Unit. Narrow those limits even more.

In an effort to adopt the best practices of the Green Beret community, The Legion Fund aspires to be the “Quiet Professionals” of the military charitable world.

Stern is deeply appreciative that 5th Group has allowed outsiders – The Greater Legion Fund Community — the humbling privilege of assisting such extraordinary Warriors and their Families, the unsung heroes in the Unit.

willy stern the legion fund signature

Willy Stern
Founder, The Legion Fund